Monday, August 8, 2011

Scriptures

So... I go in spurts of being consistent and good about my scripture reading. During the school year I'm pretty good about it because I'm in more of a routine. But I've been struggling lately.

About a month ago my bishop instructed me to read two chapters of the Book of Mormon per day, starting from the title page. For the first few weeks, I wasn't doing so hot. I had read, but not even close every day, and hadn't made a lot of progress.

I had some obstacles come up that made me realize how very much I need the scriptures, and what a strength they are to me. For the past week or so, I have been reading every day (except I forgot on Saturday, and I felt really bad about it). I am now in 2 Nephi, on chapter 5.

I have always loved the book of Ether, particularly this chapter. It's always been my favorite, with a few chapters in Alma on my favorite list as well. But I always forget (until I read it again) how much I love 2 Nephi 4, the last half of the chapter in particular. I was going to pick out my favorite verses of that part, but I can't do it because the whole thing is so amazing. It would be better to just say what I love about it in detail.

I love that Nephi says his soul delights in the scriptures and that his heart ponders them. That's what I've been doing.

I love when he says, "O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities." I can relate to this, especially lately. If a prophet of God felt like this, then I should probably feel like this much more frequently. But it's good to know that everyone has moments of weakness and despair and loss of respect for themselves. I needed this.

When he says he is "encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me," I also can relate. Temptation and sin just come so easily to us mortals, and so much more easily to me, I feel. I love knowing that Nephi felt weak and sinful just like I do.

With this verse, "And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted," I love how he changes gears. I love that he wants to be happy, but he can't because of how rotten he feels. And then he says, "Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted." This hits close to home for me. I want to be happy, but am letting my mistakes get in the way. And I need to remind myself like Nephi does, that I need to trust in the Lord and in his atonement.

And then he reminds himself of all of the ways the Lord has blessed him! God has "been my support," "led me through mine afflictions," "preserved me," "filled me with his love," "confounded mine enemies," "heard my cry by day," and "given me knowledge and visions in the night-time." And when Nephi prays mightily, "angels came down and ministered unto me." His prayers are more than answered. This is something I needed to be reminded of--to acknowledge all of the the things the Lord has done in my life, and to trust in him because of it!

The next two verses speak to the depths of my soul and bring me to tears. Nephi is battling with himself, asking himself why he should be sad because of his tough times: "Why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?" Why am I feeling sorry for myself? Why am I sad? His inner conflict goes on even more, "And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?" Now it's more than, "Why am I sad?" It's, "Why have I brought this upon myself? Why have I fallen and given up my peace? This is my fault." This is so me right now. Nephi and I would have a lot to talk about.

And then he tells himself to KNOCK IT OFF! This is the best part.

"Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul."

He tells himself not to let his enemies get to him, to stay strong in tough times. For all of us, the enemy is different. For me, right now, it's mostly myself (and some other things/people). I should give place no more for the enemy of my soul--the natural man.

His rejoicing continues poetically and joyfully, and I love, love, love it!

"Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?"

In other words, I'm telling myself to shape up now. I'm handing it all over to Thee. You are the rock, and you will save me, deliver me, and strengthen me. "I know in whom I have trusted"--I just needed to kick myself in the pants to remind myself.

And he goes on as I need to, with a repentant heart and the desire to do right, saying his "heart is broken and [his] spirit is contrite," as mine has been lately. He asks begs for another chance and determines to do better: "O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!" I love it. He begs and begs for help, for an escape, for fewer obstacles. And after asking, he affirms his desire to follow the Lord, "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever." It's like he is covenanting here--please help me, and I promise to trust you forever.

And he closes his powerful, emotional prayer with testimony:

Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.

Just ask for the right things, and you will be blessed. Pray to him, and cry to him, and rely on him. The Lord is Nephi's rock; he says it three times. And he says, "O Lord," six times--he crying to the Lord with so much passion and emotion.

At this point in my life, I read these scriptures like I was struggling the same way Nephi was. O wretched [woman] that I am... I love how poetically his inner struggle is written out, and how beautifully he praises the Lord. And how powerfully he resolves to put his faith and trust where it needs to be, to get him through his struggle.

And back to the beginning... I, with Nephi, delight in the scriptures, and "pondereth them" because they are exactly what I need every day. I needed this, and so appreciate Nephi's openness and his testimony. He reminded me of what I need to do to get through, and has inspired me to have more determination.

I love the gospel.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

That section in 2 Nephi has always been a favorite. I think I read it every day when I was in high school. Thanks for the great reminder Jan! You are amazing.